April 30, 2010

Celebrating Moms

Mother's Day has always been special to my family. Church service, brunch, family time - I have a lot of happy memories from Mother's Days gone by. Since B and I have been married, we've made an effort to rotate sharing this holiday with each of our families, as we do other big occasions.

This year, though, there's another mom in the mix: me. All these months later, I still can't grasp that I'll be celebrating Mother's Day this year. It's difficult to imagine a more special Mother's Day than my very first.

More than just a carnation as I walk into church or a pat on the back for my hard work, this seems like a celebration of survival. I've made it through seven months and I can call myself a mom! I fall into the same category as so many of the women I respect, admire, and seek out for advice. It's amazing - what a privilege!

My Mother's Day celebration might be delayed as we travel to and from Columbia, introduce Mac to hometown friends, celebrate this sweet girl's twins at a baby shower and enjoy time with my mom and the rest of our extended family. I'm so looking forward to my very first Mother's Day as a family of three and a mother to one.

Twenty-something Mother's Days later, I've run through all the go-to gifts and sometimes struggle to find the perfect gift for my mom. Add Bradley's mom into the mix and I'm even more stumped. (I just used my good idea on her birthday gift last week. I need to borrow someone's brain cells!)

I've got a whole slew of great gift ideas for myself, though. Isn't that always the way it goes? If I were the buy-myself-a-gift type o' girl, I'd be snapping up a few of these treats:

A manicure and pedicure. (I'd probably wait 'til after my calligraphy class wraps up to take advantage of this. You've never seen so much ink on one pair of hands!)

Aveda Shampure shampoo and conditioner. I adore this scent; it's such a treat to turn your head and get a little pick-me-up of fragrance throughout the day!

My Longchamps Le Pliage bag is a baby-proof favorite. I have it in a wonderful green, but it's almost had the life loved out of it. I'd love this same bag in the dark bilberry purple, or perhaps the sky blue? (You know how I love purple anything...)

I love these Janna Conner initial necklaces, particularly the coral and the blue with accent beads.

South Moon Under flower earrings; these come in a variety of colors for a great price.

Now for the "a girl can dream" category. (Subtitle: The mystery and excitement of gift-giving is severely impeded by joint bank accounts, Dave Ramsey and the practicality that comes with motherhood.)

Lilly Pulitzer Murfee scarf in a beautiful, springy pattern. The only thing I miss about winter is my scarf collection! Instant outfit changer!

The coveted orange Tory Burch Reva flats. Hey, they ship free!

Lizzie Scheck Coin with Diamond necklace

And, as with any holiday, pearls are a timeless choice as well. We're still in the dreaming category, right?

My friends Steph and Erin have each blogged about other fabulous Mother's Day gift ideas. They're celebrating their first Mother's Days, too.

What are you buying for your mom this year? How will your family be celebrating?

April 28, 2010

Cuttin' Ties

Almost a month ago, Bradley and I made the very difficult decision to cut ties with something that's become a big part of our lives these last few years: digital cable.

We had two DVRs and a growing list of programs and movies at our disposal any given moment. I loved being able to turn on Sirius radio channels and play them with B's fancy little Bose TV speakers. I enjoyed having meaningless reality TV shows at my fingertips whenever I wanted them; it was a nice mental vacation after a hectic day.

The problem? Our TV was on frequently, but we were never really watching. It was an everpresent hum in the background, snatching our attention at inopportune moments and keeping us from more important tasks at hand. Nothing we were dying to see ever seemed to be on and we just weren't getting much entertainment from our 200+ channels of nonstop nothing.

After some time talking about it, we heard from friends in our small group that life without TV was totally doable. (Not to mention it'd make Dave Ramsey proud!) Between our Netflix subscription by mail and online, as well as the shows available on Hulu and network websites, we're pretty much set. I'm amazed at how much we don't miss it.

Currently we're watching past seasons of Mad Men and Damages on DVD and current seasons of our favorite shows (30 Rock, the Office, Grey's, Parenthood, Gossip Girl, 90210 SNL occasionally, even RHONY) on Hulu. Bet you can't guess which shows on that list are only watched by one of us!

With the ability to hook our laptop up to the big living room TV and sound system, I don't feel we're missing much. I have, however, worked some books into my rotation, more dinner cooking time and longer evening conversations. Not to mention some spring strolls with my three favorite boys when B gets home early enough.

So far it's been a big win! Though our services were a sizable bill, I now wish we'd paid $400 a month for our cable, just so we could be seeing that much in savings every month. Still, I'll take "free" money where I can get it. Thanks to my Twitter friends for your encouragement; I couldn't have done it without the promise that there is life on the other side of digital cable.

Have you ever gone TV-less? Is it even fair to say we don't have TV when we all we've really lost is our monthly D!sh Network bill?

Are you, like some people we've told, floored that we've cut the cord?

April 27, 2010

Tickled Tuesday

If this doesn't make your morning better - scratch that. It absolutely will. Happy Tuesday, y'all!

April 26, 2010

It's the Little Things...

Bradley, Mac and I ventured out after church yesterday to remind Greenville that the Smiths are alive and well. Mac's unparalleled ability to drool through three outfits a day required a quick clothing change, then we were on our way.

As he got buckled in, Mac seemed utterly fascinated by the new sandals on his chubby feet. They really got in the way of putting his toes in his mouth, though; he couldn't decide what he thought about them.

After a few minutes of quiet, I looked down to see Mac peering back at me, blue eyes wide. He's already mastered the, "Who? Me? I'm not doing anything! Nothing to see here!" look that comes in handy around middle school. So why the big eyes and the itty-bitty smirk?

Sweet freedom! He'd wiggled a sandal off and was close to breaking the other foot free, too. (But first, just a little taste of the liberated foot's toes!)

What's so exciting about feet? How thrilled could a boy be to remove the half-inch of leather separating his foot from the outside world? From the looks of him, I'd say very...

Isn't it always the little things in life that get you grinning like this? Spring air on one bare foot and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from outsmarting a sandal... Life sure is sweet when you're a baby.

April 23, 2010

On a (Shopping) Mission

Football season may be four months away, but it's high time to start planning your tailgate wardrobe! Spring is the season when orange prints and seersucker patterns are bound to appear on store shelves...and promptly be snapped up by every Clemson fan in sight.

With that in mind, I've been on the lookout for skirts and dresses online. When I heard that the Blue Eyed Bride needed an orange (or green) dress for her son's first birthday party, I leapt into action. Well, my fingers did. Erin's planning a green and orange (think Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs & Ham) bash for her son Hudson and wants to dress the part.

What better reason to online window shop? All in the name of altruism.

Let's start with green:

Wouldn't these dots be fun for a first birthday party? (Boden)

I adore this pleated neckline! Zoom in at Boden for a better view.

Francesca's model is even pairing this with orange - perfection.

Francesca's aptly-named Kiss Me I'm Irish dress

Prim, proper and pretty from Anthropologie.

Now for my favorites - the orange dresses!

Orange + ruffles = my kind of fun. Francesca's.

A blank orange canvas for great accessories! Target

Too dressy for a tailgate, but gorgeous for a party! Anthropologie.

Very "Donna Reed hosts a soiree." Anthropologie.

How can you beat a $22 dress? Target.

A little orange and green. Anthropologie.

More casual looks (hello, tailgates!):
Old Navy - also in purple!

Land's End Signature

Am I missing anything, girls? Where are you finding fun things this spring? Do you shop for football season all year long, too?

April 22, 2010

Um, GAP?

Dear GAP,
Hi there! Remember me? I did a post a bit back about your new premium line of denim and how excited I was to try them out?

I loved both the Real Skinny jeans for my winter boots and my redesigned freshman year favorite, the Long and Lean. Both fit beautifully and have been in heavy rotation lately. I thought you might be turning a corner with your denim and have been peeking at your website lately to see what else is in store.

But this? This makes me question your sanity. And whether it's secretly 1995 but no one told me. Should I spritz on my Bath & Body Works Country Apple body splash before wearing this ensemble?

Someone please explain this to me. Have I transported to a time when Alanis Morissette really really needed breakup counseling - or is this actually a new trend? (Hey, if clogs are back, anything's possible...)

I saw the InStyle article on how to make jean shorts work, but I missed the memo on denim overall dresses. And for $70?

If you're considering this particular number, call me and we'll find a better way to spend your money. In the meantime, I'll be busy thinking up a name for this fabulous garment. If jorts and jeggings already exist, would we call this a jess?

April 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Smiling in the Sunshine

Okay, a few words. I realize it looks like I'm clenching his legs, but Mac loves to have his thighs squeezed. He's so ticklish there! Don't take my word for it:

I could squeeze those legs all the livelong day!

April 20, 2010

Baby (Bangs) Blues

Have you ever heard that a woman's hair can be a security blanket? It always has been for me. I'm not a high maintenance hair girl - no rollers, teasing combs or hairspray required. But I grew up with very long hair, as many girls do, and have always found comfort in either length or bangs.
Our wedding day, July 2007

Not the awful sixth grade bangs we all regret, just a gentle swoop guaranteeing that I'm not venturing out with a naked forehead. It's something I've become accustomed to, whether I've pinned my bangs back or tucked them behind my ear. I appreciated them, found them comforting.

Christmas 2008

Then I had a baby. I'd always heard that your "hair falls out" post partum, but classified that as one of the awful scary stories women like to share with moms-to-be.*

(*Note: Your 60 hour, excruciating beyond belief labor story? Save it, sister. Not something to share with a woman who's due to deliver any day. Let's talk about how it's doable! Don't scare these poor girls when their bladders are already on shaky ground...)

With Mac at three weeks old, Halloween 2009 (hence the camo)

Three months after Mac was born, I breathed a sigh of relief, convinced I'd escaped the curse that would snatch me bald-headed.

Then it started - the winter of shedding. I've always lost far too many hairs for my liking, but this time my bathroom floor went from off-white to espresso brown in days. Casually flipping my hair would result in handfuls of dark strands. Mac had them in his fists, on his clothes, in his diapers (ew). It was awful!

Just before the "baby bangs" appeared, January 2010

Thankfully, things have slowed down. I'm back to my normal (if significant) shedding pace, still a sight to see come hair-drying time. I've been left with a special 'do, though, one that's made me very very uncomfortable.

For weeks I wouldn't wear my hair in a ponytail at the gym, convinced fellow treadmill girls would see the "bald spots" at either temple. (First I thought I escaped with only one, but then I realized my flop of bangs was hiding the other.)

My security blanket bangs, the one thing separating my full, snow white face from the scrutiny of society - gone. I've now got a random chunk of hair masquerading as bangs. If you hold them up, it's the hair from the crown of my head, the longest portion of the bangs. Everything else is missing. Must've Swiffered it up...

April 2010: Mac is horrified by the sad state of my hair

So, friends, there you have it. If you run into me socially and see me touch my forehead in an awkward way, it's because of the baby bangs. The short-haired spots at either temple and the new peach fuzz growth coming in at my forehead. (B says, "At least it's coming back!" Apparently he thought the hair falling out thing was forever.)

The new hair seems to be coming in quickly, as evidenced above, but it's so obvious. There's no hiding these baby bangs; they're out there for all to see.

As if a new mom needs another reason to dislike every photo taken of her. How long can a girl walk around with a hand self-consciously poised at her forehead?

Motherhood is giving me humility in spades. Who has time for vanity when you're a balding twenty-something?

Has anyone else gone through this? Surely we'll laugh about this someday, don't you think?

April 18, 2010

Things You Should Know: Part Five

Two years ago today I wrote my first official blog entry!! After a particularly feisty exchange of mass emails, my friend Sarah created this blog, and its fabulous domain name, for little ol' me. I'm so glad she did!

Take a look, if you're so inclined, and read about the Columbia controversy that kick-started Anne Says So. My blog was private for some time, but after getting to "know" so many others through their writing, I took it public.

If you're not from 'round here, or if you haven't known me for ages, you may not understand the initials/monogram joke referenced in the name Anne Says So.

Let's just say this: Anne begins with an A. My maiden name began with an S. My married name begins with an S. As a Southern gal who will monogram anything that sits still long enough, such a monogram didn't sit well with me.

So I kept my old monogram, IAS, and love the symmetry of a vowel on either side of my last initial. Plus I can use all of my old stationery and luggage! I officially have four names on my social security card - wouldn't drop my maiden name, couldn't have a bleep-able monogram. Such a conundrum!

It's especially funny knowing that I'd wanted to drop my first name, a family name, for most of my life. I wanted to be Anne S. McIntyre (Joey's wife, obviously) from the age of 8. But God had a better plan for me - and a funnier one. So I. Anne Smith I am.

Sarah, however, has a sense of humor about the Southern love for monograms and distaste for salty language. The whole situation was so darn funny that she created Anne Says So, after my initials, to commemorate the delightful dilemma.

And here we are today! Love to Sarah and thanks to all of y'all for swinging by!

April 16, 2010

1000 days

Today marks my 1000th day as Mrs. Smith. I kept count of everything (dishes broken, thank you notes written) for the 500 day mark, but I'm a little fuzzy on some of the details this time around. You see, somewhere around day 550 little Mac began to nab my brain cells. That hasn't stopped yet.

Still, it's a day worth celebrating. We have well more than 1000 memories, even if mommy brain has stolen my ability to recall them each with clarity. I'm thankful for each of them.

Happy 1000 days of marriage, B! I love you and I'm so glad you've stuck with me.

We started here:
On the couch of the Palmetto Club, summer 2006. Little did we know we'd be back in the same building within a year to celebrate our own wedding!

One thousand days ago we were here:
July 21, 2007

We've made a few other pit stops:


Isle of Palms



I can't wait to see what's in store for us in the next 1000 days...and then some. Now it's time to celebrate. Does a cold Diet Dr. Pepper and 8 hours of sleep sound good to anyone else?

Not enough fun for you? Ok then, how about a baby shower Saturday for this gorgeous girl in one town, a wedding in another town, spending the night and going to church with the in-laws in a third town, then back to Greenville for small group Sunday afternoon. Whew. We're going to be road warriors this weekend and we can't wait...

April 14, 2010

Necklace Lust & A Target APB

I have been drooling over these Stella and Dot necklaces for quite some time. Aren't they gorgeous?

Because a $100 "fun" necklace isn't really in my budget, I have carried on this one-sided love affair from afar. When I spotted this Target necklace on Preppy Newlywed's blog, though, I knew I needed to put out an APB, as it's sold out at my store and online.

Please be on the look-out for this necklace, friends! If you see it, would you snag one for me? I'll pay you back and buy you the world's largest Chick-Fil-A sweet tea!

Wordless Wednesday: Baby Yoga Pays Off

April 13, 2010

The lights really have gone out in Georgia...

Who didn't love Julia Sugarbaker?

Her fiery grace, her self-assured gait, her ability to scathe with a smile and a lilt in her voice. She was fiercely loyal and passionately protective of those she loved. She knew what she believed in and wouldn't settle for anything less.

Who didn't want to be her when we grew up? Sure, Suzanne was beautiful, Mary Jo was sweet and Charlene was, well, bless her heart. I never did want to be Charlene.

But Julia - Julia was the force to be reckoned with. A woman who wouldn't leave things unsaid, but never said too much. Unlike me, the perfect response came in the moment, not three hours after a conversation concluded. That cutting, absolutely on-point comeback was right on the tip of her tongue and somehow never made her seem any less ladylike or in control. She wasn't demure, but was undoubtedly an old school Southern belle.

Just like you'll see embroidered on a gift store pillow (don't deep thoughts belong on pillows?): A Southern woman is a Mack truck disguised as a powder puff. Such was the example Julia Sugarbaker set.

And the woman who brought her to life, Dixie Carter, seemed to carry those very same traits. I remember squealing and running to the TV when I saw her speak at a Miss America pageant one year. (And I was well past five years old at the time. That's how happy she makes me.) She embodied charm and grace with a forthright demeanor - a rare combination.

I was so sad to hear that Dixie Carter passed away this past weekend. She will be missed.

Here's one of her most famous scenes, standing up for her sister and scaring the goodness out of Miss Georgia. I love how she ends her diatribe, "Well now you do..." No one could have done it better. The lights really have gone out in Georgia.

April 9, 2010

A Packed Car Adventure to Atlanta

In a matter of moments, the Smith household will be on its way to Atlanta to visit some of our very dearest friends. We can't wait!

Packing the car with two grown-ups, a drooling six-month-old, a hairy, panting chocolate lab, a stroller, a Pack 'n Play, a Bumbo, our luggage, a diaper bag, a Medela bag, a bag of rice cereal & baby food and assorted gifts? Whew.

I'm trying to pack light but it may be impossible! No wonder people buy giant SUVs the very moment they see two pink lines. I used to mock those people...

Mac is going to love his first visit to Atlanta - and first out of South Carolina, for that matter.

Please pray that traffic cooperates, Mac enjoys himself and we don't leave a trail of drool all over town. For better or worse, ATL, here we come!

What are your favorite things to do in Atlanta? When Mac's bigger I know we'll be able to enjoy a lot of the city's best-loved activities with him. For now, though, I'm planning on lots of strolling, chatting and outdoor dining. Any other suggestions?

April 6, 2010

Lessons from a Baby: Just Jump!

Sixty seconds after he first laid eyes on this jumper, Mac was a-bouncin' away. He might be afraid of where his parents go when he can't see them (outer space? Siberia? somewhere warm from which they'll never return?), but he's no scaredy-cat when it comes to trying new things.

If he could talk, I think he'd tell me to stop thinking things over and just jump. Nine times out of ten you'll land on your feet anyway.

(If I make a terrible decision based on the life advice I feel my six-month-old is giving me through his fearlessness during playtime, please don't have me committed! I'm looking on the bright side here and trying to emulate the happy, this-day-is-my-best-yet attitude our sweet babies embody. )

April 5, 2010

Half a Year

Mac is six months old today!

I could say that time has flown by, because it absolutely has, but in a way these six months have been the longest of my life. They've been filled to the brim with the most meaning, emotion and experience I've ever known. (A touch less sleep than usual, but I'd say we're rectifying that quickly these days!)

I feel like we've had Mac our entire lives, so perhaps that lends a bit more weight to these last 26 weeks than any before them. It's hard to remember how things were before he arrived.

Six months ago there were only two people in this house, and those people might barely recognize who we are today. From top to bottom, this half of a year has altered every corner of our lives. And we're tremendously thankful!

The morning of October 5 my doctor told us we didn't need to go home after our weekly appointment; we'd just head across the street to the hospital to check in. After ages of counting days, counting my blessings during bed rest and counting down to the very moment I'd go into labor, I felt suddenly, woefully unprepared - and fairly sure I couldn't do "this."

Well, I did. With the help of a cheerful stork, a patient husband and an army of nurses, voila! McNeal Smith arrived at 8:06 p.m., crying and pink and perfect. To us, he looked like he was carved out of butter, the most flawless and beautiful baby ever to grace this Earth. Surely he had fallen out of heaven straight into that stork's mouth. (Spoiler alert: You'll feel this way about your baby, too. It's a universal truth.)

Here was our Macky at last! I couldn't stop staring at or squeezing or touching him.

Then he grew - but I still couldn't keep my hands off of our tiny boy. Each month I doubted that he could get bigger, cuter, smarter, sweeter or more fun. But he did...

One Month Old - curled up & ready for a fight

Two Months Old - loving on his tiger

Three Months Old - fighting a cold & not a photo-taking fan

Four Months Old - bundled up & rosy cheeked

Five Months Old - ready to get his bare feet outside

Six months old - ready to explore the world beyond that window

I am incredibly privileged to be Mac's mom, to learn more each day about his sweet personality and the boy he is becoming. What's more, God is using motherhood to teach me about my relationship with Him; the parallels between us as God's children and our babies are endless.

Six months into things, I'm amazed at how quickly the game changes. I'll never figure it all out. But I'm enjoying every minute of it.

Happy half birthday to our Mac! We love you, little man. You won't get any cupcakes this time, but maybe some green beans or sweet potatoes will do the trick for now.


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